Philip Morris USA Sues China-based Online Retailers

Tobacco firm alleges sale of counterfeit cigarettes.

Philip Morris USA on Tuesday filed lawsuits against seven China-based online retailers it says are selling counterfeit versions of its Marlboro brand cigarette to California consumers. The company also sued a China-based website for selling counterfeit cigarettes to American consumers.

Additionally, Philip Morris has sued eight retailers that recently sold alleged counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes to Los Angeles-area consumers. The Los Angeles area has become one of the top markets for counterfeit cigarette activity in the United States, the company claims.

Philip Morris says these moves are part of an ongoing effort to stop the sale of counterfeit cigarettes and the unauthorized use of its trademarks, and culminates a several-month investigation involving Los Angeles and other law enforcement agencies.

"The sale of counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes to U.S. consumers through China-based websites is an emerging problem," said Joe Murillo, vice president and associate general counsel, Altria Client Services. "Selling counterfeit cigarettes is illegal, and we will continue to evolve our approach to take appropriate action to protect our brands."

Philip Morris USA has sued more than 2,800 retailers in California (and seven websites) since 2002 for selling counterfeit Philip Morris cigarettes.

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